Tulane to study oil’s effects on the Gulf

Tulane University researchers have been awarded $4 million to study oil’s effects on the Gulf of Mexico, school officials announced last week.

Proposals from three Tulane researchers are among 22 being funded by the latest Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative program.

The money will go to scientists in the School of Science and Engineering, the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies.

Vijay John, the Leo S. Weil professor of engineering at Tulane, will be the principal investigator of a project to improve dispersants, which help break up oil into small droplets. The research team received $1.2 million to develop different materials that will better work to disperse weathered oil and high-viscosity crudes.

An award of $1.5 million will fund research headed by Tulane toxicologist Charles Miller. His team will seek to identify the most toxic compounds in fresh and aged crude oil that leaked from the Macondo well in 2010.

Tulane ecologist Sunshine Van Bael and her team received nearly $1.6 million to study how bacteria living in plant roots may help break down oil. The researchers hope to find ways to inoculate plants with oil-degrading bacteria and have the bacteria delivered by plant roots to buried pockets of oil.

BP established the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, an independent, 10-year research program, in 2010 following the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The company committed $500 million to investigate the effect of oil spills on the environment and public health.

Biomedical engineering professor recognized

Donald Gaver, chairman of biomedical engineering at Tulane University, has been named a 2015 fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society.

He is being honored for “distinguished contributions to the field of biofluid mechanics and surfactant transport in pulmonary pathophysiology, and for academic leadership in the field of biomedical engineering,” according to Tulane.

He’s one of 347 scientists being recognized by the organization this year.

In nominating Gaver, Laura Levy, vice president for research at Tulane and a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Tulane School of Medicine, cited his instructional approaches, research background and work with graduate students.

She also praised his creation of an interdisciplinary doctoral program in bioinnovation. Under the program, students research how to develop marketable technology while completing coursework in business and entrepreneurship to prepare them for careers beyond academia.

Gaver and the other new fellows will receive an official certificate and a rosette pin Feb. 13 at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The full list of 2015 AAAS fellows was announced in the Nov. 27 issue of the journal Science.

Dillard to sponsor diabetes event Monday

Dillard University will host a diabetes awareness event from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday at Pentecost Baptist Church, 1510 Harrison Ave., in City Council District D.

The event will feature diabetes testing, health screenings, healthy cooking demonstrations, a farmers market, and information on enrollment in Medicare, Medicaid and other affordable health plans.

District D Councilman Jared Brossett said, “With our food and culture, New Orleans is a city of excess, and it is no surprise that we have a high diabetes rate. I urge anyone affected by diabetes or who is at risk for diabetes to attend the diabetes awareness event to learn more about prevention and care.”